A win! An actual win. Aston Villa won a game of football, in the Premier League no less. I repeat, we won a game of football. This is not a drill.
After just over five months of hurt in the League, the Villans finally registered three points. Villa Park hadn’t seen a home win in the Premier League since April 2015. This was long overdue. As is usually the case with Aston Villa Football Club, there are plenty of talking points. At least there are some positives to discuss for once.
Bunn rises to the occasion
Although not particularly troubled, there was an air of calm about Bunn that seemed to extend to the team, the defence in particular. It was only fair that Bunn got a chance and, after not doing much wrong in his FA Cup outing, the former Norwich man found himself between the sticks instead of Guzan.
Guzan has been in decline for a long time. His performances have been below-par and, to be honest, he looks shot. He has not lived up to the standards he set himself in Lambert’s maiden season.
Our first clean sheet since November in the Premier League coincided with Bunn coming in. I would expect Guzan to sit out the rest of the season now, especially if his attitude in the warm up was anything to go by. After hearing his name booed when the teams were announced, Guzan proceeded to down tools in the warm up. In the shooting practice section of the pre-match routine, Guzan decided that he wasn’t going to try to save anything unless it was straight at him.
I was appalled by this. I disagree with him being booed by his own fans but his attitude at that juncture stank and it was completely unprofessional. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that we will not see Guzan in a Villa shirt again. It’s Bunn’s shirt to lose.
Lescott and the boo boys
I understand that Lescott and Guzan are alleged to have sworn at Villa fans at Adams Park. If true, that is completely unacceptable and I can understand fans’ negative feelings towards them.
However, booing your own players is simply not on. Whilst they’re wearing claret and blue shirts, supporters should be behind every man for ninety minutes.
Lescott provided the perfect response to the boo boys by scoring the winner (with a lot of help from Wayne Hennessey). Had I been booing him, I would have been embarrassed to celebrate his goal. I hope those who did were. Lescott also put in a fairly good display, further highlighting that booing your own players will only serve to make you look silly.
After a dire start to Lescott’s Aston Villa career, in recent times we have looked more sound defensively when Lescott and Okore have been at centre back. They both had good games, with Bacuna and the recently recalled Cissokho also playing well also.
After a decent start in claret and blue, Gana went missing. Last night was different. In a midfield diamond, Gana was deployed as the anchor and he seemed to benefit from having a defined role.
Playing as the most defensively-minded midfielder, Gana suddenly looked comfortable and broke up the play well. Westwood also had a better game playing further forward as a left-sided central midfield player. There is generally a lot of criticism levelled at Westwood, although I can’t fathom it. When he is given able runners and movement in front of him he more often than not picks a good pass. With Gil, Kozak and Ayew ahead of him he was able to pick his passes more effectively. I have always rated him – and always will.
Has Garde finally found the right system with the midfield diamond? I feel it is our best set-up and suits the personnel we have. Chopping and changing systems and players every week has been part of our downfall under two different managers this campaign. I hope we will see some consistency going forward.
Fans have been calling for Kozák to start for virtually the entire campaign. Finally, this call was answered and the Czech international started his first game for Aston Villa since December 2013, which was also against Crystal Palace.
I don’t think Kozák is the answer to all our prayers. All the same, the fact that he has only just been given a chance is laughable. Having watched Gestede posing as a Premier League striker all season, the return of Kozák was welcome. People will peg them as similar players but Kozak actually made life uncomfortable for the Eagles’ defence and he is an improvement on Gestede due to the fact that he offers some movement.
Post-match, Garde mentioned that Kozák may still leave the club. In my opinion, that would be a mistake as there looked to be a useful partnership in the making with the live wire that is Ayew.
A bit of luck at last
We have seen some lucky, scrappy goals go against us this season and we have also seen some defensive howlers cost us points.
How nice was it to be the other side of one of those moments for once?
Garde of honour
Other than the fans, I don’t think there is anyone who deserved the win last night more than Remi Garde.
He’s taken a lot of stick, some of it fair but most completely disrespectful and wide of the mark. This man has taken on what seems like an impossible, horrible job. Aston Villa Football Club has been in a state of flux for some time. Garde entered at the club’s lowest ebb and at a time when I don’t think anyone at Aston Villa knows what the club is supposed to be.
On the pitch there has not been an upturn in results and some performances have been downright ugly. However, I can only imagine what he is putting up with behind the scenes. A farcical board completely, the lack of transparency and communication and dissenting players will not have made his job easy at all.
Garde has had a big week, making some strong comments to the press and finally grabbing his first win. I am pleased for the man.
The great escape
I am not naive enough to think that one win will pave our way to survival; I’m just pleased that we finally won a game.
I reluctantly accepted relegation a while ago. The rest of the season is about restoring some pride and last night was a good start.